A dispute between Walmart and Monona officials over the value of the business’ property has been settled, with a few elected officials saying it’s the best the city could hope for in the short term.

“This is in the best financial interest of the city and taxpayers, truly based on a legitimate evaluation of that commercial property,” Alder Chad Speight said.

Alder Doug Wood reiterated the city’s original valuation of the property was $28.5 million, and Walmart challenged that 2017 assessment with an $8.4 million figure. The settlement puts the value of the property at $18 million for the years 2017-20.

He said the city’s hired expert assessed the value at $22 million, so settling for $18 million was better than the $8.4 million.

“It is the best solution for us, the city and taxpayers,” Alder Andrew Kitslaar added.

Wood and Kitslaar said they hope the state legislature will take up the dark store theory loopholes in corrective legislation soon.

The dark store theory argues the value of thriving business should be based on the value of vacant or abandoned buildings of similar size. Proponents argue that regardless of location or how updated a building is, the value for property tax purposes should be based on the value of buildings and locations abandoned prior to moving into a new store at a new location.

A second issue, the Walgreens decision, is based on a Walgreens v. City of Madison Supreme Court decision in 2008. The corner properties are developed to the retailer’s specifications and leased to the company, which attorneys argue is the wrong tool to determine the properties’ value. Instead, they claim assessments should be based on the amount the landlord could get if the drugstore moved out and a different retailer moved in.

In that vein, alders agreed to donate $2,500 to the League of Wisconsin Municipalities to keep the issues in the political forefront this election year.

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